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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

“Who needs Al-Qaeda when you have got E. coli?”

congress.jpgI spent most of the week in the “other Washington.” It all does make you wonder, as one Congressman quipped some time ago: “Who needs Al-Qaeda when you have got E. coli?” What would happen if we stopped the petty bickering and actually did something about food safety like:


1. Develop and implement Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point-based systems (and if you can’t have HACCP on the farm, say HACCP-based);

2. Conduct microbial testing on soils, water and product on a routine basis;

3. Develop a product coding system down to the unit package level (bag, clamshell) allowing rapid trace back;

4. Support mandatory regulation of the produce industry at Federal, State and local levels; and,

5. Support research to determine the critical values for the safety of food, water, air and soils in farming operations.


1. Improve Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point systems;

2. Create a culture of food safety and sanitation within the firm;

3. Institute a profit sharing model to engage employees fully in the health and well-being of the organization;

4. Require all suppliers of raw materials to have HACCP systems in place; and,

5. Audit yourself and your suppliers.


1. Train and certify managers and train employees in food safety;

2. Create a culture of food safety within the firm;

3. Provide frontline management with the authority, not just the responsibility, for food safety;

4. Provide a line item budget for food safety; and,

5. Provide accessible health insurance for employees.


1. Build win-win industry partnerships while maintaining autonomy to independently protect public health;

2. Provide an outsourced system to maintain inspection schedules, shift cost to industry;

3. Require all operators of all food-related businesses to have a valid, verifiable food safety management system;

4. Develop and implement science-based auditing techniques moving away from the poke-and-sniff inspection models; and,

5. Apply risk assessment to identify high-risk operations for more intensive interventions and strengthen surveillance.


1. Support consumer activist organizations that base their platforms on science and public health protection;

2. Become more knowledgeable about food safety;

3. Use a thermometer when cooking and do not undercook or consume raw high-risk foods such as ground beef, seafood, and chicken;

4. Demand that restaurants be graded for food safety and that the grades be posted; and,

5. Support your Federal, State and local government’s efforts in food safety regulation and vote for candidates that value public health protection.

I know, this is not perfect and there are things to complain about, but it is better than doing nothing, which is what we are doing now.

  • John Munsell

    Mr. Marler, my first thought after reading your suggestions is that America has been lulled to sleep by USDA’s pompous declarations that USDA-Style HACCP is (1) “science based”, and (2) that it is true HACCP, which it is not.
    Pillsbury invented the HACCP protocol, and required Kill Steps (such as full cooking or irradiation) on all HACCP products, ensuring production of food which is consistently safe. USDA on the other hand pretends that raw meat & poultry qualifies for HACCP, although such product carries microbes outlawed by Pillsbury HACCP.
    Since Pillsbury-style HACCP produces safe food, and is indeed science based, such products require very little, if any microbial testing. USDA-style HACCP, on the other hand, produces so blasted much pathogen-laced meat that a plethora of microbial testing is absolutely mandatory. This fact alone reveals that USDA-Style HACCP is an imposter, a wolf posing in lamb’s clothing.
    USDA officials discredited the previous pre-HACCP meat inspection as a mere “poke & sniff” dinosaur relegated to the trash heap. So what? Well, inspectors are now trained to look the other way when they observe fecal material on carcasses. Why? Because visual observation is part of the old “organoleptic” (sensory) system which has been replaced by “science”. When we pressed the agency back in the late 90’s to define what they meant by “science”, their answer was microbial testing, which is NOT a part of Pillsbury-style HACCP.
    Now, when agency inspectors collect ground beef samples for microbial analysis at USDA labs for the presence of E.coli, and E.coli is detected, the agency DOES NOT traceback to the SOURCE of contamination, that is, the slaughter plant. The agency blithely places all accountability at the downstream further processing facility (grinding plant, retail meat market, hospital, school, etc). USDA now expects the victimized downstream DESTINATION to implement corrective actions to prevent recurrences. Good luck! Simultaneously, the agency DOES NOT expect or demand corrective actions at the SOURCE slaughter plants, essentially guaranteeing ongoing outbreaks and recurring recalls. This insulation of the huge, multinational slaughter plants from accountability is not based in science, but in political science.
    The agency’s demand that the downstream destination facilities implement corrective action to prevent recurrences is likewise not based in true science, but in science fiction.
    I say this not only to reveal the ugly truth about USDA’s HACCP Hoax, but also to reveal that Americans should NOT suggest that growers, manufacturers, restaurants, regulators and consumers implement USDA-style HACCP! USDA’s HACCP Hoax should be outlawed, and let’s go back to the drawing board. When USDA intentionally altered true HACCP principles for science-fiction based imposters, the agency had these motives in mind:
    1. USDA-style HACCP removes all liability from the agency for unsafe food. How can the agency be made even partly liable for pathogen-laced meat it never inspected in the first place?
    2. Comfort. By intentional agency design, USDA-style HACCP deregulated the largest plants, allowing the huge plants to police themselves, while the agency’s role has been relegated to a “Hands Off” non-involvement role, as publicly stated by the agency. Since inspectors are no longer allowed to utilize their senses (sight, smell, touch, etc), all they can do is collect samples for microbial analysis. And if samples are positive for E.coli, the agency publicly admits it will not trace back to the SOURCE.
    3. Deregulated HACCP will reduce the numbers of inspectors, saving the agency bookoo bucks in payroll costs.
    4. USDA-style HACCP transfers much responsibility for meat inspection from the agency over to the industry.
    5. Deny inspectors the right to detect pathogens via the senses, totally replacing human common sense with theoretical, allegedly “science based” claims. As such, USDA threw the baby out with the bathwater. Instead of retaining common sense and supplementing it with microbial analyses, the agency threw out common sense.
    6. USDA-style HACCP removed all authority from inspectors, describing this as dismantling command and control, another public pronouncement from the agency. However, history has proven countless times that the agency, from day one of HACCP, merely transferred command and control to its District Offices and top bureaucrats in DC, where they rewrite history from their remote locations, totally divorced from field operations and actual conditions on the slaughter floors. Very deceptive, but it has worked well…………for the agency, but not for consumers.
    Sadly, while USDA-style HACCP has deregulated the largest, fast chain speed slaughter plants, it has hyper-regulated small low-volume plants, many out of existence.
    Mr. Marler, at the DC meeting in which you and I participated this week, one of the items was Tracebacks to the SOURCE, an idea which the agency has outlawed since USDA-style HACCP was authored. Under Secretary Dr. Elisabeth Hagen concluded that she fully favors Tracebacks, a laudable and courageous statement. Well, why hasn’t the agency implemented Tracebacks during the 12 years since HACCP was implemented by the largest plants? Because forcing the SOURCE to clean up their act is absolutely contrary to what the agency and the big packers had in mind when they partnered in authoring USDA-style HACCP regulations in the mid-90’s.
    Bottom line: True Pillsbury-style HACCP is a Cadillac, while USDA-style is a jalopy, a cruel hoax, which has spawned all our ongoing outbreaks and recurring recalls, which should have been predictable. We must outlaw the basic underlying lies upon which USDA designed their intentionally faulty deregulated system of meat non-inspection. When we continue to emulate USDA’s faulty system via Hazard Analyses, interventions, etc, we merely ensure that consumers will continue to get sick, some will die. How long do we want to endorse falsehood?
    This reminds me of an alcoholic, emptying yet another bottle of wine, while questioning why his health is deteriorating. We Americans continue to endorse USDA-style HACCP, while wondering why we are simultaneously getting sick. Egads folks, the USDA-style HACCP Hoax continues to sicken us, yet we are unwilling to admit the hoax.
    John Munsell

  • Howard

    Islamic terrorists, who think nothing of blowing up their own children, would love nothing more than to achieve jihad, by wiping out a complete generation of American children, by poisoning the food at Michele Obama’s school salad bars across the country … that’s if salmonella doesn’t beat them to it.